Teaching Technical Dance
By: David JoongWon King | ©David JoongWon King 2011
As this photo may look like an ordinary foot in ballet, it is the reality. But, this photo is result of training under me. This student's former teacher/coach thought she did not have good feet and didn't have potential to make them better. So, when starting pointe work her teacher put her in gaynors. I don't recommend this shoe at all, especially not for beginners.
THE JOURNEY OF THIS FOOT
Our little journey was not an easy one. When I started working with this student she wasn't exactly where she was supposed to be technically (both for the amount of years she had been dancing, and for her age). Even in her gaynors she could not go over her box, which not only is not technically correct but creates a systematical problem.
NOT BEING OVER YOUR BOX will teach you poor technique, which will result in the following:
1. Injury, both long term and short term. A usual result can be tendonitis, or as simple as breaking your ankle.
2. Building the wrong muscle groups and distorting the body's proportions for dance.
3. Never letting you be able to balance on at your "balance spot" which will result in the inability to turn technically correctly. (see the guide for the technique of turns)
4. Never achieving the correct lines needed for classical/ technical dance.
The first thing I did was made this student leave gaynors and switch to Freed Studio 2s, making sure the vamp was high enough, the shank did not shift when rolling up or down, the box was wide enough for her metatarsals, and eliminating the pinch in the back of the shoe. (The last suggestion is not as important, the others should be a mandatory.)
After numerous classes and privates involving pointe technique her feet drastically began to change. After explaining how pointe effects the body, and how pointe technique is executed the dancers body drastically began to change as well. Her leg muscles became more lean, her arch became higher and strength became apparent.
What is nice to see in this picture is the following:
1. The top of her arch/ foot is released nicely. There is no strain, and she is actually over her box, and not being held back. (See weight placement.)
2. Her instep is nice and high creating a shape. It is supporting her whole foot allowing her to create a better line.
3. She is actually over her box. Being "on" your box and being "over" your box are two very different things. They both are reffering to your weight distribution which I talk about in the hand book.
4. The weight in her foot is guided towards her first (big) and second toe allowing the student to focus on rotating the heel forward. When you are properly placed, and a teacher tells you heel forward, the dancer should be able to initiate her heel forward from her hip. When placed properly and the weight is not back on the body your hips range of motion gain more freedom allowing the dancer to more technically precise.
Over all, I hope this photograph showed you all the thought and research I have put in to teach technical dance. I hope this little story was inspiring for you and that you will continue to go on with this series.
In this photo I am adjusting a younger dancer, notice there is no tension in my body, or his. Here I am trying to help him turn out his standing leg so he can straighten his knee. This dancer is 10 years old and has been dancing for less than one year. Once he is able to control his turn out he will be able to build the strength in his back and will learn to pull his neck back achieving the proper, and technically correct first arabesque. Once that alignment is set, this happens usually around the age of 12 (for dancers who have started at a younger age), the dancer should start focusing on the length and height held in the pelvic cradle. Depending on the pedagogy of the school, the pelvis may look drastically different. The important thing is to remember the line of the spine in relation to the standing leg, and the shape of the working leg.